Contributed by Dogs Trust
7/07/2020 - Shais Smile
‘Shai’s Smile’ was set up over two and a half years ago to offer support to tube feeding families; founded by Lindsey Bidwell, mum of Shai, who from the age of 18 months hasn’t been able to eat and drink and has been fed through a tube due to a congenital abnormality, laryngeal cleft.
“The charity has grown dramatically over the past couple of years and now also supports families and children with life long illness and disease as well as life limiting conditions” Lindsey comments, “Shais Smile provides a safe and welcoming community where families come together and share their stories, offer support and guidance”.
The charity have had to cancel and postpone a number of events and fundraisers that they have had planned for their supported families and children, including their June “Superheros Party”, held at Marsh Farm in Essex.
“Last year the party was attended by over 200 families and the we are incredibly disappointed to lose this highly anticipated event from our calendar” said Lindsey, “the team are now working even harder to build their community online to provide support and regular communication with families”.
During the last 14 weeks, the charity have provided regular activities from Facebook Live sessions including; Friday Night Family Quizzes and a Thursday Craft Club – as well as running regular, weekly competitions for the children where they can win an Amazon Gift Card. These have all proved incredibly successful.
Shai has also been spending her time in lockdown working on a new fundraiser for next year, the ‘Miles for Smiles’ campaign which will see Shai and a group of volunteers walk from Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London.
The charity have also been successfully selling copies of their book “Stars Can’t Shine Without Darkness”, written by Shai and Emily De Cosimo and illustrated by Aaron Wilson. The book focuses on Shai and is the first in a collection of real life stories aiming to raise awareness of tube feeding, not only for families who are living through it but for everyone else as well.
“It is hard to grasp and something perhaps we take for granted that not everyone can enjoy the very simple things in life like eating and drinking. Having a slice of Pizza, indulging in a Happy Meal or enjoying a nice hot chocolate, for some children they will never be able to experience this.”
“I had searched for a long time for a book I could relate to as a Tubie and failed to find anything that really got my attention”, Shai said, “Aarons illustrations really bring the book to life in a colourful, eye catching and heart warming way and this book has been created with the hope that it it shines a light on a very sensitive issue and one which definitely needs more attention”.
Shai also continues to send out lots of ‘Colin the Bear’ mascots to children and young people who are suffering with lifelong illnesses and diseases. Each bear is accompanied by a hand-written note. She also regularly sends video messages and calls too.
“Shai has been amazing during the pandemic. Not only has she battled with her own health needs and having to shield as a result of it but she continues to put others first and makes the Shai’s Smile community her number one priority”.
For further information about the work of Shais Smile please visit their website.
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